Local January 30, 2013 | 9:00 am

Xstrata project could “unleash war,” Dominican senator warns

Santo Domingo.- Xstrata Nickel aims to continue investing in the Dominican Republic in the same way it has since it came to the country in 1956 to build the largest ferronickel operation ever, with an initial investment of US$180 million.

Darren Bowden, Xstrata’s new general manager for Dominican Republic, said thus far his company has invested US$2.8 billion and future plans include another US$100 million, including the Loma Miranda project.

But Xstrata’s plans face a major hurdle from local lawmakers and social organizations, who’ve even warned of waging a “war” in the event of the project’s approval.

Bowden revealed some of the miner’s plans for the country, which he affirms depend on the Environment Ministry’s approval and on the United Nations Development Program’s technical opinion on its Loma Miranda project.

Quoted by listindiario.com.do, the Xstrata Nickel Falcondo executive said one thing is sure: Loma Miranda’s exploitation guarantees his company’s permanence in Dominican Republic for at least another 23 years.

Bowden said Xstrata wants to continue contributing to the country’s economic, social and human development and the region in which they operate.

Xstrata’s dilemma

“We have to tell Xstrata that the life of La Vega, Cibao, Dominican Republic is worth more than the resources that it can generate. Those mining resources in Loma Miranda cannot be exploited because it affects the quality of life of human beings. Some things cannot be done. Some mining resources are in places that harm humans, and often cannot be measured in terms of long term effects. If we continue devastating the environment, one little bottle of water will cost 100 pesos,” was the response from La Vega’s powerful senator, Euclides Sanchez on Wednesday.

The lawmaker accused Environment minister Bautista Rojas of “lacking character” for allowing the UN to enter the fray.

“Life is above all. Capitalism has an inherent problem, it doesn’t place the correct value on a human life. Miranda also has a mine of water, it provides water for irrigation, it’s an oxygen factory, we can void their contract,” the lawmaker said

“To exploit Loma Miranda they are going to have to kill thousands of people, the dignity of a country cannot be ignored. We live off the ecological resources from Loma Miranda. President Medina will not allow a social war to surge there.”

Interviewed on Hoy Mismo, Colorvision, the lawmaker from La Vega added that he wants Medina to declare a moratorium on exploiting Loma Miranda. “The nation is sovereign, it must be heard, and if we have to wage a war there we’ll do so. I’m warning Dominicans that they shouldn’t go berserk for funds, we have to look down the road.”

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